Camden County College Athletics make History

As you come over the Walt Whitman, from Philadelphia to New Jersey, heading down route 42 shore-bound, you’ll drive right through a little area called Camden County. In the middle of Camden County, there is a small junior college that’s doing big things athletically. And the man in charge of those big things is Athletic Director, Bill Banks.

If you don’t know about Bill, you’d think he was just another AD working too many hours just so his student-athletes and his school get the recognition they deserve. From ordering new gear and equipment, or setting up scrimmage games, Banks is always willing to do what it takes to make sure that the athletes he gets to come to Camden County College have everything they need to succeed. You’ll even find Bill in on a Saturday morning, prepping a soccer field, or the baseball field making sure the lines are just right. You may even see him on the lawn mower cutting the athletic fields so they are ideal for a game.

But what you may not know is Bill Banks was once a really good college basketball player that, just like some of his athletes, made his start at Camden County College. Bill was a 3 point sharpshooter, from Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees, New Jersey. He made the best of his time playing junior college ball and was able to move on to play at Rutgers University-Camden to finish his 4-year collegiate career.  While at Camden CC he averaged 15.2 points per game over 2 years while shooting 43% from the three. He finished his 2 year career at Rutgers averaging 13.4 points per game while shooting 41.9% from three, both statistics surpassing the great Gene Mergenthal of Highland High School (haha sorry Gene!). Over his 4 year career Banks scored 1,580 career points.

Since his playing days, Banks has steadily risen the ranks at Camden County College. He earned an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from Camden County College in 2007 and a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Rutgers University – Camden in 2009  and started working at CCC in their Facilities Department in 2010. Building positive relationships, mixed with hard work, Bill eventually was hired as the Director of Athletics in December 2014. Since being the AD, teams have flourished at Camden County College, including this past fall where they achieved a 3rd place national finish in men’s soccer, 8th place finishes in men’s cross country, 4th place finishes in women’s cross country and 4th place finishes in women’s tennis. These achievements catapulted Camden County College into the national spotlight where they were granted a 3rd place national finish in the 2020 Daktronics Cup Award for championship success for the non-scholarship 2-year college division, the highest-ever placement in the history of the school.

I am lucky enough to be a former teammate, and a friend of Bill we were able to sit down, through his busy schedule and talk about his work at Camden County College and what it means to win this type of honor.

Bill, first up congratulations. This is a hell of an honor, highest one ever for the school. First off it has to feel good to accomplish all that you had right? How does it feel to accomplish this huge honor?

Rob, this is an accomplishment that is just amazing and something that couldn’t have been accomplished without the support and dedication of our Coaches, Student-Athletes, and Staff. When I became the Director of Athletics back in December of 2014 it was a goal set forth to make Camden CC Athletics a National Powerhouse across the board not in just one or two sports. Over my years as the Director we have always been in the Top 15 in the Nation for Championship success with this past year being our highest at #3.

What does this award mean to the college?

 This accomplishment means a lot to the College. It shows we have a thriving Athletic Department that competes at the highest level year in and year out. It also is another way to showcase what the College has to offer. You can receive a great education from high level faculty while saving money. In addition, from athletic perspective many students in High School may be late bloomers or need the ability to showcase and develop and we can give you that chance. We have had many student-athletes go on to play at the scholarship level and one of our former baseball players LT Struble went on to get drafted  a few years ago by the NY Mets.

What’s your favorite part of going from athlete to AD at the same school?

 I would have to say that my favorite part of that transition is the fact that I played here and walked these hallways. I was in our current student-athletes shoes before and can understand some of the things that they deal with on a daily bases. It gives me a chance to give back and mentor them, which is something I wish I had back when I played. Winning is great but seeing our student-athletes succeed, graduate, move on and grow as individuals is so rewarding.

What’s next for CC athletics? Maybe a National Championship?

Hmm….. good question. The sky’s the limits and we will just keep trying to improve the student-athlete experience every year. As far as National Championships, I can see a few in the near future, we had an individual National Champ a few years ago for Men’s Wrestling with Dymere Rappa…. Our Men’s Soccer program has come close playing for the National Championship a few years ago and always finishes top 4 in the Nation, Our Women’s Tennis Program has been on a role finishing top 5 every year as well. You also can’t count out our other Sports like Men’s Basketball, Baseball, Cross Country, Outdoor Track and Field as well. Plus we have been improving our Women’s soccer program, Women’s Basketball, Wrestling, Softball and Golf.

Is there anything you want to say to current or even future athletes that may have an interest in playing for Camden county college?

 My best advice to current and future student-athletes would be two things. 1) Junior College Athletics is highly competitive and you need to think about life after sports and college, which means your debt… you have an opportunity to get an Associate’s degree and take many of your general education classes for pennies on the dollar compared to 4 year schools while having a chance to develop and grow academically and athletically. When you go to a community college and transfer to a 4 year school and graduate from that 4 year school you get the same degree as the person that went there all 4 years. The difference is you saved probably half of what that student paid. Also, being at a community college and saving money helps when a student decides to change their major because of the cost savings. 2) You’re a student-athlete and being a student comes first….. handle your business in the classroom, be on top of your work and stay ahead. College Coaches look for kids who can do both and stay academically eligible. The other piece to this would be understanding a course syllabus and how your being graded and don’t procrastinate with your work and take advantage of your resources…. tutoring programs at college and teachers office hours. Build a relationship with your teachers and show them your there to get a degree!

Now let’s have a little fun, if you had to can you still fill in for some minutes on the ccc basketball team? Hypothetically.

 LOL… If I had eligibility I think I could still contribute, I don’t know if I have the endurance like I had before but I can still shoot and my Basketball IQ has grown and I wish I understood the game back when I played like I do now.

Who wins 1 versus 1 you or Gene?

As far as 1 v 1 against Gene hands down I got him now…. Sorry Gene your knees are shot. The game plan let Gene Shoot and wear his legs down.

What is your favorite memory of playing college sports? (Stockton lol?)

 That’s a tough one. I would have to say scoring my 1,000th , 1,500th career points and maybe my 100th career 3 pointer in 2 years at Rutgers-Camden (Thanks Josh Askew since you assisted each of those milestones). But honestly, playing against Stockton University was always a highlight of my career especially pre game conversations with Legendary Coach Gary Matthews of Stockton. Always told me I wouldn’t score double figures against them lol, made me work that much harder to try and hit double digits in the first half.

Best teammate you ever had? Me, Tim, or other?

This maybe your toughest question since I have had the experience of playing with some great teammates from College Games to Rec Leagues to pick up games. I had the opportunity of playing with or working out with Professional players. But I would say honestly I have to go with my cousin Tim Skroski since the pick and roll game was unstoppable and I never had to say anything just make eye contact. My other favorite would be Matt Sosna who played at Weidner College.I played in many leagues with Matt and he was a big man who ran the floor, shoots the 3 well, did all the little things and seriously has one of the highest basketball IQ’s I have ever seen. But at Camden CC I would have to say Chad Green, he was one of the best defensive players I have ever played with and had a motor that was unmatched. At Rutgers-Camden I played with some good guys in my cousin Tim and Josh Askew but honestly one of the most underrated guys who I loved playing with was our 6’2” center Antoine Miller who understood the game so well and I could always count on him catching the ball in the post, controlling it, let the game come to him and always found me open from the post for a wide open 3. Miller played hard and smart and was always a double double guy!

What’s next for bill banks?

What’s Next? Honestly, I try to take each day as it comes and do my best to lay out a blue print for the future that is fluid. But honestly I have 2 paths I would like to go. If I stay in athletics I would like to continue to build Camden CC Athletics into the National Powerhouse it is and at some point make a move to the NCAA level. But since I have been in this position as Director of Athletics I have found a passion for working with students. I can seriously see myself working in another capacity at a college or High School: Recruitment, Advising, Counseling, Student Life and Activities. I take great pride in seeing the growth and development of the students I work with. Seeing them succeed and move on is what I cherish most, winning and success is great but knowing you laid the foundation for someone to be success in life is the key.

The Daktronics Cup award is calculated after each sports session of the school year, and based on placements in Nationally ranked tournaments. Camden County College has never placed first in its history, but because of the school’s athletes, coaches, trainers, and athletic director Bill Banks, the man behind the scene, the school was able to make history. This is just the beginning of what the school can accomplish with Bill running its athletic department, and just the beginning of a long list of awards Bill is going to win.

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